Monserrat St., BF Homes, Parañaque, Metro Manila
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What's the next best thing to sashimi and sushi?
While we were engrossed in our foodie conversation about hole-in-the-wall(s) in the South, Paolo S mentioned that there's this one small Yakitori place just across the wet market in BF Homes that's selling kobe beef for a steal. Soon as I heard the word "kobe", my interest in our conversation intensified. Lol. I asked for the exact place and the name and mentally noted that I should visit it SOON as possible --- Which was two days after our rendezvoos.
I drove around and looked for the wet market and Ookini, and soon as I saw this small place with red lanterns hanging everywhere, I parked the car right infront and looked for the sign... everything was written in japanese. Fortunately for me, my companion has a sharper vision. I found the restaurant in the corner of Monserrat st and another street which I totally forgot to check because I was already excited. Heh.
The place is open, not air-conditioned. It has a small bar and a couple of fans. The Yakiniku area is outside by the patio and each table has a ceiling fan.
We were immediately greeted by the staff as we went in. It was a bit confusing because the interior looks legit but the staff were all pinoys. Lol. The tables inside are made of wood and bamboo. As we sat, we were given a menu. The kobe that I was looking for was not in it so I had to ask for it. The staff mentioned that it was 450 for every 100g so I asked for 2 orders. Then we also ordered:
Asupara bacon (50) - 2 sticks of asparagus wrapped in bacon. A classic fave. This was, as expected, good. I mean, nothing can go wrong with bacon, right?
Butabara (45) - sliced pork belly in skewers. I asked the staff if it was a local pork. He told us that it was also imported from Japan. It was very tender although a bit too fatty for me which I think would be good for some people.
Cha han (180) - Japanese fried rice. I'm still wondering why Cha han is expensive... in fact, it's also expensive in Nihonbashitei. I remember ordering two cups of Cha han and we paid almost 500 for just 2 cups of rice. I mean, why? Initially, I thought Ookini's rice was just ok, but when I mixed it with the condiments given to us (onions with chili and that special soy), it turned the Cha han into one delightful bowl of rice.
Miso soup (100) - I wondered why this soup is more expensive than the usual miso we get in Jap restos. The size was just regular but bigger than the usual miso bowls. The difference is in the ingredients and the taste. Theirs have more ingredients. It has the typical seaweed and the tofu and of course, miso. But it also has more veggies and bits of pork. It was good but it could use a lil more miso.
Kobe beef 450/100g - we ordered two of this. Each order comes in 2 thin, marbled slices. When it's served, you'll be the one to grill it. And since it's thin, I suggest you cook it very quickly so as not to waste the meat's goodness by overcooking it. I had it medium. And even without putting anything, the beef was already very good.
With uts juice and fat oozing out. I still drizzled it with a lil special pepper and soy, though.
It's not as great as the kobe in Tsukiji but since Japanese beef have different grades, I'm assuming this is not of the highest grade.
It's still impressively good for the price.
Next time, I'll try the other choices to know if everything they have are all good. They don't have sushi and sashimi though, so don't look for it.
I noticed while eating that the patrons were mostly japanese.. and you know what they say about authentic restaurants.
If you're not grilling though, don't choose the tables outside because the area has a slight stench.
Service-wise, the owner probably taught the staff the famous japanese courtesy because everyone was very courteous, polite and just nice and very accommodating. When I was backing out of the parking, the guy who was tending to us even assisted me and bowed down like how the japs do as I sped away. Pretty impressive.
Will surely go back for more and maybe next time I'll ask that my beef not be sliced thinly. Lol.
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I just can't rave about this place enough! Last night i felt like the luckiest dude alive. I never, ever thought i'd be able to get my hands on real Kobe beef anytime soon until <see attached photo> happened.
Passed by after work for a quick snack on the way home and the friendly owner, Mr. Yuji, asked me to join him and a couple of other regular Japanese patrons to the patio for some yakiniku on the house. I was initially too shy to say yes, but with some prodding, i went ahead and joined them. Then he brought out THE BEEF. What marbling! What is this???
Then i learned he's from Kobe, Japan *ding ding Kobe beef ???* and that he's got 2 friends from his hometown - one who's a butcher / cattle 'matador', and another who's a courier to the Philippines and can bring the beef over to him.
And with that, my friends, he is able to offer real Kobe beef at a very competitive rate of P450 for 100g. And yes, its THAT Kobe beef. The stuff of legends from cows that are fed beer, massaged, and sleep all day while listening to classical music. Since its primarily still a yakitori place, the beef yakiniku isnt on the menu yet. But you can already request for it, and the yakiniku area on his patio is already set up and good to go.
This was the absolute first time i've had Kobe beef and it was very much as good as how i thought it to be. Each bite was so flavorful because of the visibly intense marbling you see on each cut. It was so soft that it was like biting into gum that melts once you start chewing! This just went perfect with the grilled horumon (intestine) and beer on the table.
Excuse the humble brag haha, but I felt immensely lucky that i dropped by that night and was invited to join him and his friends for a sampling. And i guess spreading the word is the best way i can repay the gesture. Who would've thought you'd find Kobe beef in a homey, no-frills yakitori bar beside the wet market in BF homes???
And if in doubt, pass by and you'll notice a reasonably full house in the evening with 90% of the patrons being Japanese.
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Ookini Yakitori is a quaint and unassuming yakitori joint / Japanese pub hidden away from the Aguirre crowd but still within the BF area (across the BF wet market). I'd like to think that this is as authentic a yakitori/Japanese pub experience as it gets (as confirmed by a japanese patron i spoke with). If I remember correctly, it's named Ookini after the owner's favorite baseball team.
You basically come in, sit down at the communal bar table surrounding the owner, and order your beer/sake and yakitori of choice. The yakitori isn't expensive at all and is perfectly seasoned and grilled. The chahan, yakisoba, and okonomiyaki are good too! And i like how they give you this mini-charcoal grill to keep your yakitori orders warm while you munch on the other sticks. Special mention: their yaki edamame is the and deliciously addicting!
The crowd consists of mostly the Japanese regulars and friends of the owner, so thats definitely a good sign! Its normal to end up as the only Pinoy (or one of the handful) in the place, but thats perfectly alright. Patrons and the owner are friendly and would engage/include you in cool lighthearted conversation (with a bit of broken english ) if they see you often enough.
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